From smutty to saintly on the Trans Canadian Highway

Tuesday was a big driving day, covering about 400 km and stretching from St John’s to Trinity and a bunch of places in between. I left St John’s at about 8am, stopping to get petrol at a nearby petrol station. I experienced a bit of a language barrier here. The petrol station said it wasn’t selling gas because of construction. Fine, I thought. I don’t need gas I need petrol. I rock up and a guy walking out of the open petrol station says they don’t have any gas. I say, yeah, I know. I need petrol. He looks at me a little blankly and then finally the penny drops. I thank him and drive away to get gas from somewhere that can sell it. Well played, Canada. Well played.

First stop: Dildo

Yes, there is a place in Newfoundland called Dildo. There’s also Conception Bay South, Come By Chance, Placentia and Blow Me Down. Dildo is a bit out of the way and it’s small so it was almost worth not going, but I went. I drove through it but couldn’t find a good place to take a representative photo so I took one at the sign that pointed towards it. Yes, it’s embarrassing but something you just have to do.

Dildo

Puffins Alive!

I drove up the Bonavista peninsular to Elliston, a tiny coastal town renowned for its puffin colony. Unlike yesterday’s boat tour, this time you get a little bit closer to them, but not too close as they’re situated on an isolated rock. But first, I saw the sealing memorial. There’ve been lots of deaths of sealers and fishermen in Newfoundland so there’s this rather poignant memorial in Elliston on the coast of a father holding his dying son. Both had gone sealing and only the father returned alive. The boy was 15.

A much cheerier sight was beheld further down the road. After a little bit of a walk, you come to the edge of a cliff and look across to the opposite rock where there are hundreds of puffins. I took plenty of photos of the little birds as they hopped around or plunged off the edge of the cliff to go fishing. I then just sat and watched them for a while, one flying quite close to me. It was a wonderful way to spend some time, and of course, get to see more puffins.

Bonavista to Trinity

I hadn’t planned on going to Bonavista but it was only ten minutes away so I took the detour. I didn’t stop there at all, just drove through. There’s a replica boat but I wasn’t in the mood for it so I drove to Trinity East to the youth hostel I’m staying at. It’s small but comfortable enough. I’d completely forgotten that there’d be other people just lounging around like it’s some sort of share house. I locked myself in my room shortly after arriving. However, I didn’t stay put for long. The Skerwink Trail beckoned.

Skerwink Trail

When I’d booked the youth hostel I think it was in Trinity. Turns out, it’s in Trinity East which is across the water from Trinity, and a much smaller town. The upshot of this has been that it’s close to the Skerwink Trail, where I declared my love for Newfoundland.

Skerwink Trail is a 5.3km loop that goes around the coast. It starts about 500 m from the youth hostel door. The time it takes to walk to trail varies depending on how many times you stop and exclaim, “Oh my god! How beautiful is this!” If you run it, it takes 45 minutes. For me it took just over two hours. I stopped and took a lot of photos.

The trail goes through some peat and boggy woodland, and it hugs the coast so every now and then you get a bit of a view to the water below and down the coast. It’s stunning. Every time you get to another window it takes your breath away. You also see a bit of the forest, from the giant fungi that have sprung up around the place and the red berries on the forest floor, to the big trees that just cover this cliff face.

There are also some pretty hair-raising drops. I stood close-ish to the edge at a couple of points, had some photos taken (which I think turned out really well), and then continued around to the other side of the trail. From there you get a view of Trinity with its lighthouse. There’s also a lookout where you can get a 360° view of the whole area.

Sadly there were no whales off the coast, but that didn’t really matter considering how goddamn beautiful the place is. And not just here but just about everywhere I’ve been to in Newfoundland so far has been staggeringly beautiful. Newfoundland is my new favourite Canadian province (even when it’s cloudy).

Dinner in Trinity

Iceberg beerAfter the trek, I lounged around for a little while and then drove the 15 minutes around to Trinity in search of food. I eventually found the Trinity Mercantile. For such a small town, you’d think everything would be right there and easily to locate but it took a little driving around to find it. I ordered fish cakes, rhubarb butter tart and an Iceberg beer. It was a welcome treat at the end of a treat-filled day.

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2 thoughts on “From smutty to saintly on the Trans Canadian Highway

  1. “Dildo is a bit out of the way and it’s small so it was almost worth not going” . . . So: only a little dildo, and even that hard to find . . . (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the temptation to say this!)

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